Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Impala SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed practicing for the Gatorade Duel at Daytona, being guaranteed in to the 500, how things are working this his...
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Impala SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed practicing for the Gatorade Duel at Daytona, being guaranteed in to the 500, how things are working this his new team and other subjects.
WHAT IS ON TOP FOR PRACTICE TODAY? "Just making sure I don't get in the wrong car (Laughs). Making sure we get acclimated to everybody. Looking forward to getting out there on the track and drafting. We were out there in qualifying practice, the car was decent and watching my teammate win the other night (Kevin Harvick winning Bud Shootout). It gives me a lot of confidence knowin' our cars are capable of getting the job done. Looking forward to it."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT NOT ONLY GETTING USED TO YOUR NEW COLORS BUT EVERYONE ELSE'S NEW COLORS OUT THERE AND WHO IS IN WHAT CAR? ARE YOU USING FLASH CARDS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT? "(Laughs) I'm not that bad man. It is different, even to see (Tony) Stewart out there in the No. 14 car, you are like 'Who is that...oh yea that is Stewart'. It is going to be interesting. It is probably harder for you guys, you are the guys that have to write about it and call the races. I was just talking to the radio boys in there about it and they said they named the wrong driver in the wrong car a few times the other night. It is all new for me. New colors, new sponsors, new number, all new team. It is going to be a lot of fun this year; it is going to be a challenge. It is a challenge I am looking forward to. I am excited."
CAN YOU LOOK AT PRACTICE AND SEE WHERE GUYS ARE RUNNING AND TAKE ANYTHING OUT OF IT FOR THE 500 OR IS IT JUST REALLY WHO IS IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME ON THE LAST LAP? "Oh, you bet. I was watching the Shootout and the practice sessions close trying first to figure out how our cars are doing and how they were reacting. How they were sucking up to cars. How they were handling in the corners. Watching the race and then talking to my teammates, you have to handle. Handling has always been a premium. It keeps getting more and more of an issue. It seemed over the last few years, you were screaming tight, tight, tight, way too tight. Now, they are actually too loose out there. Our fighting them being too loose is why they can't go. I'm concentrating on going out here in practice sessions and try to find a happy medium, a middle of the road. Once I get the handling down, seeing how we suck up. Talladega seems like you really have to work on how the car sucks. How you can pass. How it works with other cars. And here, if you can hold your foot flat on the floor the whole time on a tire run and a fuel run. You are going to be good."
IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH OTHER DRIVERS KNOWING WHO YOU ARE WITH A DIFFERENT CAR AND COLORS? "It is no different than being over there at the dirt track last night. You just don't know. That is what I was telling Dale that drives for me. I don't know who I am racing against. You guys have the benefit of knowin' who is going to do what, how they are going to react. Who you can race with, who you can't. It is no different than over here, we'll figure it out pretty quick. It is kinda funny to say this but, more than the colors on the cars, because we all have different paint schemes from time to time throughout the season, it's the drivin' styles. That is how you can pick out whose who most of the time. I know that sounds weird, but it isn't going to take you very long to figure out which car Stewart is in. You know what I mean. That is a prime example."
HOW MANY PEOPLE DID YOU GET TO BRING FROM THE NO. 07 AND IS IT COHESIVE? "I think I brought Dillon, my spotter, Mike Dillon. I think that is the only. He and myself are the only ones who came over. I am looking forward to it. Shane Wilson (crew chief), I have a lot of confidence in him. He is very organized; he is very methodical about everything that he has went about so far. He has surrounded me with good people once again. I look at this as an opportunity. It is going to take some time, there is going to be a learning curve, but when we hit our stride, I think it is going to be good."
HOW HAS THE ADDITION OF THE FOURTH CAR AFFECTED THE CHEMISTRY AT RCR (RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING)? "I don't think any and I think we have been very fortunate cause I don't think it has affected it at all. I think it's been a benefactor. I don't see any way, shape or form where it has hurt us. I think we were all kind of nervous about that. Bringing Shane on board instead of somebody else, I think was a big part of that because he was he'd been a part of the program. He knows the system and he didn't have to come in and didn't ruffle any feathers. He fit in because he had already been at RCR. I think that was a contributing factor to having success with moving a fourth team in."
DOES THE FACT THAT EGR (EARNHARDT GANASSI RACING) IS RUNNING THE SAME ECR (EARNHARDT CHILDRESS RACING) ENGINES YOU ARE AND OUT QUALIFIED ALL OF THE RCR CARS CONCERN YOU? "You guys don't miss anything. I was wondering the same thing. I am going to have to get after my crew chief to figure out what is going on. We can't blame the motor program anymore. We are going to have to start looking at ourselves. They just did a little bit better job of finding those little tricks you know, that make these things grow. I think our cars will probably handle better. That always seems to be the way. There is a Catch 22 somewhere. You have to give up a little bit of handling to be fast and vice versa. It is going to be interesting to see how they handle, how they race throughout the race versus our cars. If they out handle us and out speed us in the qualifying charts, I am going to be upset."
HOW MUCH ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO PRACTICE ESPECIALLY WITHOUT TESTING? "They were slipping and sliding around a bunch out there in practices for the Bud Shootout. I have been over at the dirt track practicing slipping and sliding so hopefully we can be good right off the bat. We have had to adjust a lot; we have had to adjust a lot. It has been a lot of learning this year. Learning new faces, new personalities, new team, new sponsors, that has been a change for me. Ever since I have been here, I have only had a handful of sponsors since I started with Richard Childress. It has been a lot of fun getting to know the General Mills folks and what all they can do and their activation to our program. It has been awesome. It has been a lot of getting to know the sponsor end of it so we can take care of them. It tough times out there you know. These economic times the way they are, we have to go out there and make sure we do everything we can do for our sponsors so we can keep those sponsors. I have just been trying to make sure I can take care of them as much as I possibly can. On the competition side of it, trying to work with my team. Trying to find a place to test, wherever it may be, so we can just get to know each other."
TWO LAPS TO GO ON SUNDAY, WOULD YOU RATHER BE FIRST, SECOND OR THIRD? "I would rather be first with my three teammates behind me. How about that? They always say you don't want to be first, I would rather be first anywhere, any day of the week."
SORT OF THE COMPLAINT I GET FROM READERS IS THIS TYPE OF RACING IT IS KIND OF THE LUCK OF THE DRAW CRAPSHOOT KIND OF THING, IT IS NOT REALLY RACING. THOUGHTS? "I think there is a lot that goes in to that. There is a lot of racing. It is a chess match, but when it all comes down to it there is a little bit of that lucky push or having that right car behind them. That right situation right there at the end. If Kevin (Harvick) didn't have that car right behind, he wouldn't have won that race. He had that push at that exact time. There is a little bit luck to that, but there is a lot of strategy in putting yourself in that situation trying to strategize to have that push right at that exact time. Does that always work according to plan? No. But I think that is what separates a good driver from the rest is being able to have the ability to put yourself, put your car in that situation. Now, whether it is there or not, a little bit of luck can play in to that."
HAS IT BEEN HARD TO ADJUST TO FIRST NOT BEING GUARANTEED A STARTING SPOT, THEN GETTING HERE AND YOU ARE GUARANTEED IN THE SHOW? "It definitely changed my mindset walking to qualifying and my mindset walking to the 150s, you know. There is a comforting feel to that just to be able to know you are in the show. Knowing the last three years I haven't had to worry about that and then all of a sudden it is a huge worry. It makes you sick to your stomach. I am glad to get that behind us and whatever happened, happened. We can go and race as normal as we always do down here. The 150s are going to be crucial; you bring your best bullet here to unload right off the truck. If you have to pull your backup car out, it is second best. If you tear that think up in the 150s, you are going to be frustrated knowing you have your second best car out there. Now, can that car win? Who knows. But if it doesn't, you'll always have that in the back of your mind."
DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE THE SAME TYPE OF STRATEGY SUNDAY AS WE SAW KEVIN DO IN THE SHOOTOUT? "I think so. But, it is just so difficult to do that. I mean you can get caught up. If you aren't back far enough, you are going to get caught up in it anyway. If you are too far back, you might lose the draft. I think Jimmie Johnson last year and actually lost the draft, that is a gut wrenching feeling. You just have to be careful, any way you go. I think the best approach still is to try to get up there and be in front of it. That is the best policy in a crash. If you can be in front of it, you're gonna get through."
DO YOU ADMIRE THE SMALLER TEAMS WHO COME HERE WITH SO MUCH LESS? "I just think they are trying to take advantage of some tough times. Taking advantage of trying to get in the show. This is a big show. If they were able to accomplish getting in to the Daytona 500, that is a huge accomplishment for any race team. Especially somebody who is underfunded or under personnelled, like you said. If they can accomplish that, and there is a big group of them, it is not just one or two. Whoever is in the show on Sunday, it is going to be a huge, I think it is going to be awesome. It is going to be big for them and I think it could propel them in to a race team someday. I think there are a lot of teams that are going under right now and there is room for this sport to have some new ones. If some of those guys can make the Daytona 500 prove to a sponsor that they make these races and be competitive, they might be in business."
-credit: gm racing